Internal watchdog to review trips to Oklahoma by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

Internal watchdog to review trips to Oklahoma by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt 

Posted: 2:47 pm Monday, August 28th, 2017

By Jamie Dupree

The Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency has launched a review of spending by EPA chief Scott Pruitt related to trips he has taken to and from his home state of Oklahoma since joining the Trump Administration, amid claims from critics that such travel should not be paid for by the federal government.

“This assignment is being initiated based on congressional requests and a hotline complaint, all of which expressed concerns about Administrator Pruitt’s travel — primarily his frequent travel to and from his home state of Oklahoma at taxpayer expense,” the Inspector General’s office announced on Monday.

The internal investigation was announced weeks after an environmental group used a Freedom Of Information Act request to obtain Pruitt’s travel records, showing the EPA chief had repeatedly traveled to and from his home state, with taxpayers often picking up part of the tab.

“48 out of 92 days in March, April and May in which Pruitt was travelling,” the group found, “Forty-three of those travel days were spent in Oklahoma or heading to or from Pruitt’s home state.”

Those 43 days in Oklahoma came during March, April and May of 2017, after Pruitt had been confirmed as EPA chief.

“This isn’t right,” said David Hayes, a former Interior Department official in the Clinton and Obama administrations. “Rules are clear. When “duty station” is DC, government can’t subsidize travel back home.”

A group of Democratic lawmakers in Congress had asked for the review, questioning whether Pruitt – who came to the EPA after being Attorney General in Oklahoma – had followed government travel guidelines, citing one airline ticket that cost $1,980.

The issues are much like an investigation from back in 1991, when questions were raised about the home-state travels of Peace Corps director Paul Coverdell, and his frequent trips back to his home state of Georgia.

Coverdell, who had been a state Senator, later resigned from the Peace Corps, and won a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1992.

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